Rossio, 58, sparked anger after he claimed that calling someone who was against vaccinations “Anti-Vax” was the “equivalent to calling someone” a racial slur, spelling out the word in his tweet.
It “makes as little sense,” added Rossio, whose writing credits include box office hits “Shrek,” “Aladdin” and the “Pirates Of The Caribbean” franchise.
For the record, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “anti-vaxxer” as “a person who opposes vaccination or laws that mandate vaccination.”
Rossio’s comment was in response to a thread initially started by Erik Burnham, who said anti-vaxxers “made me grind my teeth,” per BuzzFeed News. Burnham has since deleted his message. Rossio’s post followed one from “The 100” writer Julie Benson, which called on people to donate money to UNICEF’s polio vaccination program in the name of their anti-vaxxer relatives:
Rossio’s response drew immediate ire from fellow tweeters, who called him out for using the racial slur and promoting the widely debunked conspiracy theory that childhood vaccines can cause autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states on its website that there is “no link between vaccines and autism.”
It should be noted that Rossio was in 2016 reported to have secured the movie rights to a book by disgraced British doctor Andrew Wakefield, who conducted a study in the 1990s claiming to have proof of a link between childhood vaccines and autism. It was found to contain falsified data and was later retracted.
Even Dictionary.com joined in:
Benson, meanwhile, hit back at Rossio and in their subsequent back and forth asked him to “never come on my feed with the n word again.”
Rossio later apologized via a series of three tweets for using the racial slur in his post:
This article has been updated to include Rossio’s apology.